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The evil enchantress Su-ling had a sister, Ya-Mei, the good enchantress. For 200 years, Su-ling had kept Ya-Mei imprisoned in the body of a caged rabbit. Freed when the Emperor destroyed her evil sister, Ya-Mei is very grateful. Many years before her death, Su-ling had placed a curse on the kingdom that, upon her demise, would trigger the unleashing of a swarm of highly destructive, magically enhanced stink bugs on their crops, threatening their food supply and very survival. When the curse is enacted, Ya-Mei, seeing the desperate situation, grants Ru-lan power over insects. This power helps the young prince save the kingdom from starvation. In victory, Ru-lan shows compassion for his enemies, teaching everyone a lesson. He also meets the young, talented, precocious Cai Hua, his future wife. The Attack of the Giant Stink Bugs subtly teaches values, while introducing the reader to interesting aspects of Chinese culture.
Laurence Bennett and his wife Dorothy adopted a baby from China in 2004, Olivia Cai Hua. With the help of her Chinese babysitter, she was raised bilingually, maintaining ties with the culture of her birth country. The books in the Ru-lan series stemmed from stories that Laurence would tell Cai Hua when she was young.
A native of Poland, Basia Tov is a teacher, freelance illustrator, book designer, and artist. Both live in New York City.